6 December 2012

Liberia: Disbanded AFL Soldiers Run to Court

Former soldiers of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) have taken the Liberian government to court for what the ex-service men called violation of their constitutional rights.

The more than fifteen thousand ex-soldiers said they took the legal step against the government because all efforts to have their grievances addressed failed.

According to the ex-military personnel, the government breached Article VII (b) of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and Article 34 (b&c) of the Liberian Constitution.

The disbanded soldiers claimed they were unconstitutionally retired and subjected to ill-treatment for more than six years.

The retired soldiers argued that the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord requested for the restructuring of the AFL but instead, the army was disbanded which they claim is in violation of the CPA.

Article 34 (b) of the Liberian Constitution states: the Legislature shall have the power "to provide for the security of the Republic," and (b) says "to provide for the common defense, to declare war and authorize the Executive to conclude peace; to raise and support the Armed Forces of the Republic, and to make appropriations therefore provided that no appropriation of money for that use shall be for a longer term than one year; and to make rules for the governance of the Armed Forces of the Republic."

The aggrieved former soldiers in their petition said their unconstitutional retirement has led to subsequent relegation, vulnerability to hunger, deaths, diseases, and social depression.

"We love Liberia this is why we took the profession of militarism but it was frustrating for the level of ill-treatment we have received", the soldiers lamented.

Addressing a news conference Tuesday, the Chairman of the former soldiers retired Col. Richard Boye assured that despite ill-treatment against them, they will continue to demonstrate commitment to peace and stability in Liberia.

Col. Boye said they have hired the Executive Director of the Center for the Protection of Human Rights, Cllr. Dempster Brown to serve as their legal counsel.

They are demanding seven years salary payment owed them by the Liberian government.

The aggrieved former soldiers through their legal counsel Dempster Brown have petitioned the Six Judicial Civil Law Court to look into the matter.

It can be recalled that the same disbanded AFL petitioned the legislature to impeach the president but the petition was thrown out of the window.

Observers believe the disbanded soldiers usually raised issues about their salaries when holidays like July 26, Christmas and New Year are approaching.

It remains to be seen whether the ex-soldiers will pursue the legal path to the end.

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